What Happens If Your AC Compressor Goes Bad?

The compressor is the ‘heart’ of your AC. Your AC unit cannot operate without this essential element. So, when it starts to act up, there is cause for alarm.

Generally, if your AC compressor goes bad, the system will, in most cases, stop cooling. This can be a huge inconvenience, especially during the summer months. Not only is it uncomfortable to be in a hot home or office, but it can also be costly to run the air conditioner constantly in an effort to cool things down.

But there’s no need to worry! This article will explore what happens when AC compressor goes bad and what might cause it. This way, you can have a rough idea of how to prevent it or handle it when it happens.

Compressor Out on AC Unit — Nine Signs and Causes

As mentioned earlier, the compressor is a vital component in the system as it compresses the refrigerant gas and pumps it into the air conditioner system. During this exercise, humidity and heat are extracted from the air, causing a relaxed atmosphere.

If your compressor goes bad, you can be sure that your entire system will not function properly, if not completely shut down. For this reason, taking care of your AC unit, especially having it serviced regularly, will ensure a longer lifespan and increased efficiency.

Usually, an AC compressor has a lifespan of 10-15 years. But, if it is not maintained correctly, it can have a much shorter lifespan.

Common Signs and Symptoms of a Bad AC Compressor

  1. Noises: Screeching, Growling, or Clattering

The first thing you’ll notice when your AC compressor isn’t in good shape is strange noises.  If you hear any of these noises, ensure that you get your AC checked to determine the cause. When the compressor is the cause, this can be a major problem.

Also, if you notice any vibrations on your condenser unit, this should be a cause for alarm. So, don’t leave your unit running under these circumstances, hoping the sounds will fade away. Contact an HVAC technician as this could be a disaster waiting to happen. 

  1. Hard Start

Is your AC unit having a hard time starting up? The compressor might have gone bad. And although it is not the only cause of an AC unit’s hard start, it’s one of the main causes. As such, you should never ignore it.

However, it’s prudent to be certain before taking any action. For instance, tripped breakers might also be the reason why the unit is having a hard time starting. The first step should then be to check your breakers to confirm that all is well and that the AC is getting power as needed.

  1. Poor Airflow

Reduced airflow is another common sign of a failing AC compressor. Here, you’ll notice that the airflow from your vents is weaker than usual. It is especially true if the air coming out is warmer than normal.

So, if you were wondering what would happen if your AC compressor broke down, this is among the major results. A struggling or broken AC compressor cannot provide sufficient airflow, a situation you’ll easily notice.

  1. Circuit Breaker Issues

Circuit breakers are designed to protect your home or property against the risk of fire. As such, if anything is wrong with the AC, your circuit breaker might keep tripping. And a broken compressor is one such issue.

So, if you notice your circuit breaker keeps tripping, the first thing you should do is unplug any appliances or electronics that might be causing the problem. If this doesn’t work, then call an electrician as there might be a more serious problem – like the compressor.

What Causes a Compressor to Break Down?

Understanding how to establish a failing AC compressor isn’t enough. You should also know the underlying causes so that you can easily prevent the breakdown.

  1. Low Refrigerant Levels

The compressor helps to cool your home or space by pushing Freon (refrigerant) across the refrigerant lines. The Freon absorbs warm air from your home and expels it outside.

However, if there are leaks on any part of the refrigerant lines, Freon levels will decrease. As a result, the system can easily overheat and lead to a compressor malfunction. For this reason, always ensure that there are no leaks and that the Freon levels are optimal.

  1. Dirty Condenser Coils

These coils facilitate heat transfer within the AC unit. But, the accumulation of dirt, dust, or grime on the coils hinders their functionality.

If the heat can’t be expelled from the system, this forces the compressor to overwork to maintain the thermostat temperature. In the process, the AC compressor will potentially overheat and malfunction. 

Therefore, ensure that you regularly clean the coils to promote proper heat transfer and prevent compressor issues.

  1. Faulty Electrical Connections

The compressor is a highly electrical component. As such, it needs a continuous supply of electricity to function properly. If there are any faulty electrical connections, this can easily disrupt the power supply to the system and lead to a malfunctioning compressor.

But, if you suspect faulty electrical connections, don’t try to fix them yourself. 

  1. External Debris

As the compressor is located outside, it’s prone to damage by external debris like tree branches and leaves. Such debris can easily get into the system and cause serious damage.

As such, always ensure that your AC unit is clear of any obstructions or debris. Such an easy task can ensure the best performance of your AC unit.

  1. Poor Lubrication

The compressor has several moving parts that need to be properly lubricated at all times. If there’s inadequate lubrication, the moving parts will generate too much friction causing the system to overheat.

Also, the resulting heat can damage the compressor’s internal components and cause a breakdown. That’s why you should always ensure that the system is properly lubricated according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

What Happens When AC Compressor Clutch Goes Bad in Your Unit?

When an AC compressor clutch goes bad, you can expect serious issues with your compressor and the whole system. Firstly, the compressor fails to function. Secondly, the AC will fail to cool the space, which will lead to an increase in temperature.

This is because the clutch is responsible for the regulation of the refrigerant flow. And the refrigerant is responsible for absorbing excess heat from the air and cooling the space.

Call a professional, like one of our team members at Anderson Air, to help you out if you aren’t comfortable fixing your AC compressor.

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